America, Your Benefactor is Never the State
Ilana Mercer sides with the market
The market place brings plenty; the state does the opposite. Yet not a day goes by when consumers, ignorant of the forces that feed, clothe, cure, employ, entertain them and innovate for them, don’t demand that those who’ve done nothing of the kind – the McCains, Obamas, Bushes, Clintons of the world – proceed with force against those who do nothing but.
Expect the anti-Walmart jousting to begin, because Walmart has done it again. To fill the need created by the Obamacare wrecking ball, Walmart Stores, Inc., is venturing into the business of providing primary health care. For $40, the price of a copay (in an Obama-mandated, subpar, healthcare plan), “you can walk into a Walmart clinic and see a doctor.” It’s “just $4 for Walmart U.S. employees and family members.”
Via Market Watch:
“On Friday, a Walmart Care Clinic opened in Dalton, Ga., six months after Walmart U.S., the retailer’s biggest unit, entered the business of providing primary health care. It now operates a dozen of clinics in rural Texas, South Carolina and Georgia and has increased its target for openings this year to 17. … A typical retail clinic offers acute care only. But a Walmart Care Clinic also treats chronic conditions such as diabetes. (Walmart U.S. also leases space in its stores to 94 clinics owned by others that set their own pricing.)”
“It was very important to us that we establish a retail price in the health-care industry because price leadership matters to us,” said Jennifer LaPerre, a Walmart U.S. senior director responsible for health and wellness, in an interview. Hear, hear!
The argument against Walmart presses its case with an impressive array of economic fallacies. Typically, the critic – an example is “The High Cost of Low Prices,” in The American Conservative – does nothing to trace the mysterious mechanism by which Walmart is said to impoverish. By offering “the lowest possible prices all the time, not just during sales”? What precisely is the economic process that accounts for Walmart’s ability to “expel jobs and technology from our own country”? Competition? Offering a product people choose to buy?
“Protecting the home market,” which is what The American Conservative’s writer advocates, is to the detriment of consumers. It forces them to subsidize less efficient local industries, making them the poorer for it. To keep inefficient industries in the lap of luxury, hundreds of others are doomed to shrink or go under.
The writer also froths at the mouth over “the teenage girl in Bangladesh … forced to sew pocket flaps onto 120 pairs of pants per hour for 13 cents per hour.” It sounds dreadful. However, the economic reality is this: Walmart is either offering higher, the same or lower wages than the wages workers were earning before its arrival in Bangladesh. The company would find it hard to attract workers if it was paying less, or the same as other companies. Ergo, Walmart is a benefactor that pays the kind of wage unavailable prior to its arrival. More materially, if the entrepreneur were forced to pay workers in excess of their productivity, he would eventually have to disinvest. What will the Bangladeshi teenage girl do once Walmart departs?
Even the Hollywood “Idiocracy” is hip to the spontaneously synchronized order that is the free market. Just for a change, the feminist lobby is moaning about the movies and its members’ representation therein. By Variety Magazine’s telling, “[Female] characters are still significantly under-represented on the big screen. … The numbers for minority females are even lower. African-American female representation on screen [has] climbed to 14 percent, from 8 percent in 2011, but [is] down from 15 percent in 2012.”
The presence of minorities in movies often signals a two-hour long, oppressive racial lecture. Most movie-goers are no more inclined to turn to “12 Years A Slave” for fun, than they are to subject themselves to Oprah Winfrey and her M.O.P.E. (Most Oppressed Person Ever) “Butler.”
Anti-man moaning notwithstanding, the general public must be on to this, because it is quite clear that Hollywood is giving viewers what they want to see: men in lead roles. If film executives listened to the feminist lobby, rather than to the demands of consumers – the industry would go under.
Alas, most liberals (and that includes “conservatives” aplenty) are foolish enough to lump business with government as an eternal source of disappointment to Americans. Noodles Ron Fournier of National Journal:
“Steadily, over the past four decades, the nation has lost faith in virtually every American institution: banks, schools, colleges, charities, unions, police departments, organized religion, big businesses, small businesses and, of course, politics and government.”
As I type, I consume a plate of seven different fruits topped with nuts. Many of the ingredients on my plate are organic. These used to be exorbitantly priced; out of reach. But as demand for organic produce has grown, production has increased and prices have dropped dramatically.
Each day I give thanks to the businessmen who, against all odds, bring such abundance to market and provide such plenty. There is nothing in my home that comes courtesy of the blessings of bureaucrats. I guarantee that it’s the same in your home.
If you, like Fournier, fail to distinguish the blessings of the private economy from the blight of government – you deserve none of the former and all of the latter.
ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.barelyablog.com